Curtis Institute of Music

This week in July of 1940, one of the most loved and most sung choral works - written by a composer living in Philadelphia - was premiered in western Massachusetts. But Randall Thompson’s Alleluia is almost the opposite of an “alleluia.”

From Randall Thompson, the composer who was then the Director of the Curtis Institute of Music, conductor Serge Koussevitzky requested a loud and festive choral fanfare. It was to open the Berkshire Music Center at Tanglewood.

American violinist Benjamin Beilman is making his mark in recitals and as soloist in orchestral programs, both at home and abroad. As WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, the 25-year-old Curtis graduate enthusiastically embraces a wide range of music. Beilman performs Jennifer Higdon’s Violin Concerto with The Philadelphia Orchestra on WRTI, Sunday, May 10 at 1 pm.

Radio script:

His own piano teacher told him he wouldn’t get into Curtis, but that he ought to audition anyway, for the experience. So, two weeks after traveling from Pittsburgh with his mother to play for Rudolf Serkin and Eleanor Sokoloff, Charles Abramovic received a letter from the Curtis Institute of Music. He was accepted.

The Guarneri Quartet looks down at them from a frame hanging on the wall. There’s that and an espresso machine in the practice room of the Aizuri Quartet, the String Quartet-in-Residence at the Curtis Institute of Music. The Guarneri once taught there, but the women of Aizuri laughingly confess that sometimes they’re not sure which item in the room—the picture or the coffee-maker—is more important.

Candace diCarlo

The door closed behind Jennifer Higdon. She was in the office of her college conducting professor, Robert Spano, seeking advice about what to do. She had just heard back from the Curtis Institute of Music - they had accepted her application for graduate studies, but so had other music schools. She needed guidance.  "I'm not letting you out of here," Spano said, until she agreed to accept the spot from Curtis.

Candace diCarlo

“Kind of incredible, isn’t it?” says Jennifer Higdon. She has won a Pulitzer and a Grammy, her orchestral work blue cathedral has been performed more than 500 times, she is professor of composition at the Curtis Institute of Music, and is one of the world’s most-performed living classical composers. But when she arrived at college, she hadn’t heard of Igor Stravinsky. “I knew nothing,” she said.

Curtis Institute of Music composition student TJ Cole is only 21, but she already has a string of impressive commissions under her belt. Last year she was chosen to write a piece of music based on the Free Library's 2015 One Book, One Philadelphia selection - Orphan Train, a novel by Christina Baker Kline.

It’s the story of 91-year-old Vivian, who lost her family as a child, and 17-year-old Molly, a foster child who also knows what it’s like to be alone and unwanted.  

After violinist Elissa Lee Koljonen graduated from the Curtis Institute of Music in 1994, she was invited to perform at the Cape and Islands Chamber Music Festival (now the Cape Cod Chamber Music Festival). At a rehearsal there, she confessed to the violist she was to perform with that she had never before performed the popular Halvorsen Passacaglia for violin and viola (based on music of Handel). The violist, Roberto Díaz, then admitted the same thing to her.

When Stanford Thompson left Philadelphia with a degree from the Curtis Institute of Music, the talented trumpeter had a myriad of career options that could have landed him in any city in the world. Lucky for us, after a few detours, he's back here in the City of Brotherly Love.

The Musical Growth of Patrick Williams

Jan 12, 2015

Flutist Patrick Williams’ love of music started young. Classical music was omnipresent in his childhood home, with his parents encouraging him to pursue it as a career and way of life. Williams learned how to play the piano at age five, and picked up the flute and violin a couple years later. The other instrument fell to the side when Williams decided to focus all of his talent and efforts on the flute.  It worked out well. His first public performance was at the 1998 Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony in Japan.